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Standards of proficiency

Foreword 1
Introduction 2
Expectations of a registrant 5
The skills required for the application
of practice 8
Knowledge, understanding and skills 12
I am pleased to present the Health and Care Professions Councils
standards of proficiency.
We first published the standards of proficiency when our Register
opened in July 2003. We began to review them in October 2005
to look at how they were working and to check whether they
continued to reflect current practice as experienced by
registrants, employers, educators and others. The review was
led by a professional liaison group (PLG), which included
members of our Council, as well as representatives from
professional bodies and service user groups. We also held a
formal consultation on the draft proposed standards. The review
process and consultation produced extremely valuable feedback
and we are grateful to all those who gave their time to help us in
shaping the standards that follow.
We made a small number of changes to the previous standards,
mainly to reflect developments in education, to clarify our
intentions and to correct any errors or omissions. We also revised
the introduction to explain more clearly the purpose behind the
standards, especially in relation to registrants who specialise or
move away from clinical or frontline practice.
I am confident that the standards are both fit for purpose and
reflect current thinking in relation to safe professional practice
across the professions.
These standards are effective from 1 November 2007 and were
amended in August 2012 to reflect our change of name to the
Health and Care Professions Council.
Anna van der Gaag
Standards of proficiency Dietitians 1
This document sets out the standards of proficiency. These
are the standards we have produced for the safe and effective
practice of the professions we regulate. They are the minimum
standards we consider necessary to protect members of the public.
You must meet these standards when you first become
registered. After that, every time you renew your registration you
will be asked to sign a declaration that you continue to meet the
standards of proficiency that apply to your scope of practice.
We also expect you to keep to our standards of conduct,
performance and ethics, which are published in a separate
The standards of proficiency in this document include both generic
elements, which apply to all our registrants, and profession-specific
elements that are relevant to registrants belonging to one of the
professions we currently regulate. The generic standards are
written in black, and the profession-specific standards are
written in blue to help you distinguish between them.
The generic standards explain the key obligations that we expect of
you. Occasionally, we have pointed out specific elements of those
key obligations. We have not attempted to create exhaustive lists of
all the areas that each generic standard covers; we have simply
highlighted specific elements where we consider this to be helpful.
A note about our expectations of you
The standards of proficiency play a central role in how you can
gain admission to, and remain on, the Register and thereby gain
the right to use the protected title(s) of your profession.
It is important that you read and understand this document. If
your practice is called into question we will consider these
standards (and our standards of conduct, performance and
ethics) in deciding what action, if any, we need to take.
The standards set out in this document complement information
and guidance issued by other organisations, such as your
professional body or your employer.
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Your scope of practice
Your scope of practice is the area or areas of your profession in
which you have the knowledge, skills and experience to practise
lawfully, safely and effectively, in a way that meets our standards
and does not pose any danger to the public or to yourself.
We recognise that a registrants scope of practice will change
over time and that the practice of experienced registrants often
becomes more focused and specialised than that of newly
registered colleagues. This might be because of specialisation in a
certain area or with a particular client group, or a movement into
roles in management, education or research.
Your particular scope of practice may mean that you are
unable to continue to demonstrate that you meet all of
the standards that apply for the whole of your profession.
As long as you make sure that you are practising safely and
effectively within your given scope of practice and do not practise in
the areas where you are not proficient to do so, this will not be a
problem. If you want to move outside of your scope of practice you
should be certain that you are capable of working lawfully, safely
and effectively. This means that you need to exercise personal
judgement by undertaking any necessary training and experience.
Meeting the standards
It is important that our registrants meet our standards and are
able to practise lawfully, safely and effectively. However, we do not
dictate how you should meet our standards. There is normally
more than one way in which each standard can be met and the
way in which you meet our standards might change over time
because of improvements in technology or changes in your
practice. As an autonomous professional you need to make
informed, reasoned decisions about your practice to ensure that
you meet the standards that apply to you. This includes seeking
advice and support from education providers, employers,
colleagues and others to ensure that the wellbeing of service
users is safeguarded at all times.
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In particular, we recognise the valuable role played by professional
bodies in representing and promoting the interests of their members.
This often includes guidance and advice about good practice which
can help you meet the standards laid out in this document.
Service users
We recognise that our registrants work in a range of different
settings, which include clinical or frontline practice, education,
research and roles in industry. We recognise that different
professions sometimes use different terms to refer to those who
use or who are affected by their practice and that the use of
terminology can be an emotive issue.
We have tried to use a term in the generic standards which is as
inclusive as possible. Throughout the generic standards we have
used the term service users to refer to anyone who uses or is
affected by the services of registrants. Who your service users are
will depend on how and where you work. For example, if you work
in clinical or frontline practice, your service users might be your
patients or your staff if you manage a team. The term also includes
other people who might be affected by your practice, such as
carers and relatives. In the profession-specific standards, we have
retained the terminology which is relevant to each individual
These standards may change in the future
We have produced this new version of our standards after
speaking to our stakeholders about how the standards were
working and how relevant they were to registrants practice.
We will continue to listen to our stakeholders and will keep our
standards under continual review. So we may make further
changes in the future to take into account changes in practice.
We will always publicise any changes to the standards that we
make by, for instance, publishing notices on our website and
informing professional bodies.
Standards of proficiency Dietitians 4
1a Professional autonomy and accountability
Registrant dietitians must:
1a.1 be able to practise within the legal and ethical
boundaries of their profession
understand the need to act in the best interests of service users
at all times
understand what is required of them by the Health and Care
Professions Council
understand the need to respect, and so far as possible uphold,
the rights, dignity, values and autonomy of every service user
including their role in the diagnostic and therapeutic process and
in maintaining health and wellbeing
be aware of current UK legislation applicable to the work of their
understand the ethical and legal implications of withholding or
withdrawing nutrition
1a.2 be able to practise in a non-discriminatory manner
1a.3 understand the importance of and be able to maintain
1a.4 understand the importance of and be able to obtain
informed consent
1a.5 be able to exercise a professional duty of care
1a.6 be able to practise as an autonomous professional,
exercising their own professional judgement
be able to assess a situation, determine the nature and severity of
the problem and call upon the required knowledge and
experience to deal with the problem
be able to initiate resolution of problems and be able to exercise
personal initiative
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Expectations of a registrant
know the limits of their practice and when to seek advice or refer
to another professional
recognise that they are personally responsible for and must be
able to justify their decisions
1a.7 recognise the need for effective self-management of
workload and resources and be able to practise
1a.8 understand the obligation to maintain fitness to practise
understand the need to practise safely and effectively within their
scope of practice
understand the need to maintain high standards of personal conduct
understand the importance of maintaining their own health
understand both the need to keep skills and knowledge up to
date and the importance of career-long learning
1b Professional relationships
Registrant dietitians must:
1b.1 be able to work, where appropriate, in partnership with
other professionals, support staff, service users and
their relatives and carers
understand the need to build and sustain professional relationships
as both an independent practitioner and collaboratively as a
member of a team
understand the need to engage service users and carers in
planning and evaluating diagnostics, treatments and interventions
to meet their needs and goals
be able to make appropriate referrals
1b.2 be able to contribute effectively to work undertaken as
part of a multi-disciplinary team
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1b.3 be able to demonstrate effective and appropriate skills
in communicating information, advice, instruction and
professional opinion to colleagues, service users, their
relatives and carers
be able to communicate in English to the standard equivalent to
level 7 of the International English Language Testing System, with
no element below 6.5
understand how communication skills affect the assessment of
service users and how the means of communication should be
modified to address and take account of factors such as age,
physical ability and learning ability
be able to select, move between and use appropriate forms of
verbal and non-verbal communication with service users and others
be aware of the characteristics and consequences of non-verbal
communication and how this can be affected by culture, age,
ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs and socio-economic status
understand the need to provide service users (or people acting on
their behalf) with the information necessary to enable them to
make informed decisions
understand the need to use an appropriate interpreter to assist
service users whose first language is not English, wherever
recognise that relationships with service users should be based
on mutual respect and trust, and be able to maintain high
standards of care even in situations of personal incompatibility
1b.4 understand the need for effective communication
throughout the care of the service user
recognise the need to use interpersonal skills to encourage the
active participation of service users
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The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) tests competence in the English
language. Applicants who have qualified outside of the UK, whose first language is not English
and who are not nationals of a country within the European Economic Area (EEA), must
provide evidence that they have reached the necessary standard. Please visit our website for
more information.
2a Identification and assessment of health and
social care needs
Registrant dietitians must:
2a.1 be able to gather appropriate information
2a.2 be able to select and use appropriate assessment
be able to undertake and record a thorough, sensitive and detailed
assessment, using appropriate techniques and equipment
be able to choose, undertake and record the most appropriate
method of dietary and nutritional assessment, using appropriate
techniques and equipment
2a.3 be able to undertake or arrange investigations as
2a.4 be able to analyse and critically evaluate the
information collected
be able to use nutritional analysis programs to analyse food
intake, records and recipes and interpret the results
2b Formulation and delivery of plans and
strategies for meeting health and social care
Registrant dietitians must:
2b.1 be able to use research, reasoning and problem-solving
skills to determine appropriate actions
recognise the value of research to the critical evaluation of
be able to engage in evidence-based practice, evaluate practice
systematically and participate in audit procedures
be aware of a range of research methodologies
be able to demonstrate a logical and systematic approach to
problem solving
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The skills required for the
application of practice
be able to evaluate research and other evidence to inform their
own practice
be able to use statistical, epidemiological and research skills to
gather and interpret evidence in order to make reasoned
conclusions and judgements with respect to dietetic practice in
disease prevention and management
2b.2 be able to draw on appropriate knowledge and skills in
order to make professional judgements
be able to change their practice as needed to take account of
new developments
be able to demonstrate a level of skill in the use of information
technology appropriate to their practice
be able to choose the most appropriate strategy to influence
nutritional behaviour and choice
be able to undertake and explain dietetic treatment, having regard
to current knowledge and evidence-based practice
be able to advise on safe procedures for food preparation and
handling, food processing and menu planning, and the resulting
impact on nutritional quality and menu planning
be able to interpret nutritional information including food labels
which may have nutritional or clinical implications
2b.3 be able to formulate specific and appropriate
management plans including the setting of timescales
understand the requirement to adapt practice to meet the needs
of different groups distinguished by, for example, physical,
psychological, environmental, cultural or socio-economic factors
understand the need to be sensitive to social, economic and
cultural factors that affect diet, lifestyle and health
understand the significance and potential impact of non-dietary
factors when helping individuals, groups and communities to make
informed choices about their dietary treatment and health care
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be able to assist individuals, groups and communities to
undertake and to become committed to self-care activities
including diet, physical activity and other lifestyle adjustments
understand the need to demonstrate sensitivity to the factors
which shape individual food choice and lifestyle which may impact
on the individual's health and affect the interaction between client
and dietitian
2b.4 be able to conduct appropriate diagnostic or monitoring
procedures, treatment, therapy or other actions safely
and skilfully
understand the need to maintain the safety of both service users
and those involved in their care
2b.5 be able to maintain records appropriately
be able to keep accurate, legible records and recognise the need
to handle these records and all other information in accordance
with applicable legislation, protocols and guidelines
understand the need to use only accepted terminology in making
2c Critical evaluation of the impact of, or
response to, the registrants actions
Registrant dietitians must:
2c.1 be able to monitor and review the ongoing effectiveness
of planned activity and modify it accordingly
be able to gather information, including qualitative and
quantitative data, that helps to evaluate the responses of service
users to their care
be able to evaluate intervention plans using recognised outcome
measures and revise the plans as necessary in conjunction with
the service user
recognise the need to monitor and evaluate the quality of practice
and the value of contributing to the generation of data for quality
assurance and improvement programmes
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be able to make reasoned decisions to initiate, continue, modify
or cease treatment or the use of techniques or procedures, and
record the decisions and reasoning appropriately
2c.2 be able to audit, reflect on and review practice
understand the principles of quality control and quality assurance
be aware of the role of audit and review in quality management,
including quality control, quality assurance and the use of
appropriate outcome measures
be able to maintain an effective audit trail and work towards
continual improvement
participate in quality assurance programmes, where appropriate
understand the value of reflection on practice and the need to
record the outcome of such reflection
recognise the value of case conferences and other methods of
be able to evaluate nutritional and dietetic information critically,
and to engage in the process of reflection in order to inform
dietetic practice
be able to adapt dietetic practice as a result of unexpected
outcomes or further information gained during the dietetic
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3a Knowledge, understanding and skills
Registrant dietitians must:
3a.1 know and understand the key concepts of the bodies of
knowledge which are relevant to their profession-
specific practice
understand the structure and function of the human body,
relevant to their practice, together with knowledge of health,
disease, disorder and dysfunction
be aware of the principles and applications of scientific enquiry,
including the evaluation of treatment efficacy and the research
recognise the role of other professions in health and social care
understand the theoretical basis of, and the variety of approaches
to, assessment and intervention
understand, in the context of dietetics, biochemistry, clinical
medicine, diet therapy, food hygiene, food science, genetics,
immunology, microbiology, nutrition, pathophysiology,
pharmacology and physiology
be aware of catering and administration
understand sociology, social policy, psychology, public health and
educational methods relevant to the dietetic management of
individuals, groups or communities
understand the methods commonly used in nutrition research and
be able to evaluate research papers critically
3a.2 know how professional principles are expressed and
translated into action through a number of different
approaches to practice, and how to select or modify
approaches to meet the needs of an individual, groups
or communities
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Knowledge, understanding
and skills
3a.3 understand the need to establish and maintain a safe
practice environment
be aware of applicable health and safety legislation, and any relevant
safety policies and procedures in force at the workplace, such as
incident reporting, and be able to act in accordance with these
be able to work safely, including being able to select appropriate
hazard control and risk management, reduction or elimination
techniques in a safe manner in accordance with health and safety
be able to select appropriate personal protective equipment and
use it correctly
be able to establish safe environments for practice, which minimise
risks to service users, those treating them, and others, including
the use of hazard control and particularly infection control
be able to advise on safe procedures for food preparation
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Health and Care Professions Council 2012
Publication code: 20070509fPOLPUB
(reprinted with amends due to organisational name change in August 2012)
This publication is produced using trees from sustainable forests and recycled fibre.